PRO SERIES: Daniel Suarez Wins At Daytona Short Track

Daniel Suarez Battle At The Beach NASACR Win ( K&N Pro Series )

Daniel Suarez K&N Pro Series Victory At Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Daniel Suarez made it 2-for-2 in the young NASCAR K&N Pro Series East season, taking charge early on Tuesday night and cruising to victory in the UNOH Battle at the Beach at Daytona International Speedway.

Earlier in the night, Doug Coby clinched the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour portion of the second annual showcase for the short-track stars of NASCAR’s touring series. Both winners had to withstand late-race restarts, but avoided the mayhem that foiled the last-lap leader in each race during the 2013 running.

Daniel Suarez — a NASCAR Drive for Diversity standout and NASCAR Next developmental driver from Monterrey, Mexico — started sixth and methodically picked his way to the front, snagging the lead by the 32nd of 150 laps. From there, he dominated, leading 119 laps and charging to his third career victory in the series.

“Man, I feel like I have no words for where I am right now,” the 22-year-old Suarez said. “I feel like it’s a dream.” says Daniel Suarez.

Daniel Suarez edged Cameron Hayley, last year’s UNOH Battle at the Beach winner in the K&N Series, in a door-to-door contest at the checkered flag just two nights earlier in the season opener at New Smyrna Speedway. Tuesday night, he staved off any potential pressure to win by a relatively comfortable margin of .596 seconds.

Austin Hill, a 19-year-old Georgia native who prevailed in the East series’ race at Dover last year, finished second. Brandon McReynolds started 19th in 26-car field and rallied to finish third. Nick Drake, 18, and defending NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion Lee Pulliam, making just his second K&N start, completed the top five.

The second edition of the Battle at the Beach wasn’t without fender banging, with eight caution periods slowing each race, but changes to the course prevented a repeat of the crash fest that erupted in the inaugural event. Race officials shortened the straightaways of the temporary course on the backstretch of the 2.5-mile speedway and rounded the apexes of the turns to curb the banzai-style passes that marred the inaugural event.

The alterations didn’t stop the Modified race, the night’s opener, from a frantic finish with plenty of late contact on the revamped .37-mile layout. Coby slipped by race-long dominator Ryan Preece on a late-race restart with three laps left, then withstood a significant last-lap bump from Jason Myers to prevail.

Coby, the 2012 series champion, was running third for the final restart and neatly slipped through the closing melee in the non-points event, taking advantage of damage to Preece’s car. It marked a repeat victory in the Daytona exhibition for teamowner Mike Smeriglio III, who fielded a winning car for Steve Park last year.

“Two in a row here for this team,” Coby said. “… This is survival. We survived and we won 20 grand.”

Myers held on from the last-lap contact to finish second, .322 seconds behind. Luke Fleming — like Myers, a competitor on the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour — held on for third place with Preece fourth and Burt Myers, the runner-up’s brother, fifth.

For Preece, a NASCAR Next driver and the 2013 champion of the northern-based Modified tour, the result was heartbreaking. The 23-year-old Connecticut native led the first 147 of 150 laps but made contact trying to put Dave Sapienza’s No. 36 a lap down.

Sapienza spun to bring out the eighth and final caution period. Preece continued, but with a bent left-rear wheel that left him vulnerable for the decisive restart.

“I don’t know. It kind of baffles me,” Preece said. “You don’t want to cry, but it’s Daytona and it would’ve meant a lot to me and would’ve meant a lot to my family.”

Pit note: Unlike last season, the Battle at the Beach counted toward the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East standings. The fast start means Daniel Suarez holds an 18-point lead over Pulliam. The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East announced a return to nearby New Smyrna Speedway for 2015. George Silbermann, NASCAR vice president of touring and weekly series, and track owner Robert Hart signed the contract Tuesday evening, just two days after the series’ thrilling debut at the half-mile asphalt oval.

Author: NASCAR


UNOH Battle at the Beach Results ( K&N Pro Series )

Fin Str Car Driver Team Laps Points B/Points Status
1 6 6 Daniel Suarez Sunoco Racing Fuel Toyota 150 48 5 Running
2 2 22 Austin Hill * A&D Welding Ford 150 42 Running
3 19 16 Brandon McReynolds NAPA Auto Parts Toyota 150 41 Running
4 11 15 Nick Drake * NAPA Auto Parts Toyota 150 40 Running
5 9 11 Lee Pulliam * Don Valley North Toyota 150 39 Running
6 10 96 Kenzie Ruston Ben Kennedy Racing Chevrolet 150 38 Running
7 3 20 Gray Gaulding Krispy Kreme Chevrolet 150 38 1 Running
8 18 99 Patrick Staropoli * PEAK Toyota 150 36 Running
9 12 34 Scott Heckert Turner Scott Motorsports Chevrolet 150 35 Running
10 21 31 Kaz Grala * OzLINK Chevrolet 150 34 Running
11 15 46 Brandon Gdovic American Messaging/ Toyota 150 33 Running
12 23 97 Jesse Little Vanacore Homes/NTI Chevrolet 150 32 Running
13 17 4 Sergio Pena UTI/NASCAR Technical Institute Toyota 150 31 Running
14 13 98 Cameron Hayley Cabinets by Hayley Chevrolet 150 30 Running
15 1 41 Ben Rhodes * Alpha Energy Solutions Chevrolet 150 29 Running
16 14 42 Jay Beasley * Toyota Racing Development Toyota 150 28 Running
17 20 21 Mackena Bell Special Smiles Toyota 149 27 Running
18 7 43 Brodie Kostecki * Arcoplate Toyota 148 26 Running
19 22 71 Eddie MacDonald Grimm Contracting Chevrolet 148 25 Running
20 16 2 Ryan Gifford Toyota Racing Development Toyota 147 24 Running
21 8 1 David Garbo, Jr. * Garbo Lobster Toyota 145 23 Running
22 5 24 Brennan Newberry Qore24 Chevrolet 143 22 Running
23 4 4 Ronnie Bassett, Jr. * Butler Trailer Mfg. Toyota 143 21 Running
24 26 18 Brandon Jones Paragon Energy Holdings Toyota 143 20 Running
25 25 55 Jerry Dawson * EXIT Realty Chevrolet 81 19 Accident
26 24 89 Cory Joyce Kyros Ent Chevrolet 74 18 Brakes